Two weeks ago, the President endorsed a new bill in the Senate designed to cut legal immigration levels in half over a decade, a potentially extreme change to policies that have been in place for more than half a century in our country. The RAISE (Reforming Immigration for Strong Employment) Act would reduce the annual distribution of green cards awarding permanent legal residence to just over 500,000, a decrease of more than 1 million. These cuts would include reductions to family-based immigration programs, eliminating the ability of United States citizens to sponsor their brothers and sisters and making it nearly impossible for them to sponsor their parents. Instead, this bill would create a “merit-based” point system based on an applicant’s ability to speak English and benefit the United States economy as a method to rank applicants for the 140,000 employment-based green cards distributed annually. Moreover, the bill would cut in half the number of refugees accepted into the United States per year and eliminate the visa diversity lottery, a program that gives 50,000 visas to countries that send few immigrants to the United States in the name of attracting underrepresented immigrants.
Like so many other proposals that have been put forward in recent months, the justification for the RAISE Act— increasing wages and protecting American jobs —relies on myths rather than on facts, myths constructed to make us fear immigrants. The facts show that immigrants are crucial to our economic success both nationally and in North Carolina, and we must do everything in our power to create smarter immigration policies, not policies that are limiting our potential. Immigrants and refugees are an asset to this country, not a threat. This country would not be what it is today without the contributions of immigrants and refugees to our workforce, and limiting the future of these vulnerable groups in the United States will only limit the future potential of America itself.
Moreover, this bill is problematic for anyone who believes in family unity and supports protecting the vulnerable people. All our Holy Texts call for us to welcome and care for the stranger, not to turn our backs on vulnerable immigrants and refugees. Instead, we are told we should treat immigrants the same way we respond to Jesus Christ. As people of faith, we are called to protect, serve, and love those who are desperately seeking safety, refuge, and family. Rather than promote policies that will limit all immigration, both authorized and unauthorized, we should be promoting policies that keep families together and reward those who contribute to our economy, regardless of their language abilities or educational achievements. I urge everyone to call their senators at 202-224-3121 and ask them to vote no to the RAISE Act and yes to endorsing the value of the United States welcoming immigrants and refugees.